Team Nigeria began its participation at the ongoing African U-18 and U-20 Athletics Championships in Ndola, Zambia, on a bright note yesterday, with the duo of Joma Oghenefejiro Praise and Oshiokpu Grace grabbing two gold medals.

Forty-two athletes are flying the nation’s flag at the combined fourth African U-18 Championships and the 15th African U-20 championships, which began yesterday. Nigeria’s first gold medal came from the triple jump U18 event, where Praise jumped 12.67m. A few hours later, Nigeria increased the tally to two gold medals, with Oshiokpu Grace jumping 13.03m in the U-20 triple jump event. The high jump event for U-18 boys was going on at the time of this report yesterday.

President of Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Chief Tonobok Okowa, who has just been elected as one of the vice presidents of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA), said yesterday, that the gold medal won by Praise and Oshiokpu in the triple jump event was a sign of good things to come for Team Nigeria in Ndola.

“It is a good beginning for us, and I commend the athlete for her determination and courage in the midst of stiff oppositions. I am sure we will do well in this championship,” Okowa stated.

Team Nigeria is parading 23 boys and girls in the U-18 category, and 19 men and women in the U-20. Among the athletes in Ndola is Nigeria’s U-20 women’s record holder, Tima Godbless, as well as while Asaba 2022 National Sports Festival 100m and 200m silver medalist, Faith Okwose.

The athletes had undergone intensive training at the Steven Keshi Stadium, Asaba, for over two weeks before their departure to Zambia. The Guardian recalls that at the last edition held in Cote d’Ivoire in 2019, Enoch Adegoke came to limelight with a 10.29 seconds Championships record, and two years after, he became the first Nigerian man in recent time to run in the final of the Olympics.

Another athlete, Favour Ofili, also set two Championships records in the 200m (23.38sec) and 400m (52.28sec) four years ago, same as Rosemary Chukwuma, who successfully completed a sprint double in Cote d’Ivoire in 2019. Nigeria finished third behind South Africa and Kenya in 2019.

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